The tally so far, according to the campaigns: Romney has lined up at least 33 current members of Congress. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who declared his candidacy only two months ago, has chalked up at least 14, according to both campaigns.
Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, has only a fledgling campaign presence after his meteoric rise in the polls in recent weeks, but he's working to build a following in meetings Wednesday with lawmakers. Four House names - former Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who is a tea party booster, and former congressman and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania - have tiny corps of supporters.
There is no doubt that Romney is winning this Capitol Hill primary. Leading the charge for the former Massachusetts governor is a fellow GOP establishment stalwart, Sen. Roy Blunt, who has nearly three decades of connections from K Street lobbyists to Capitol Hill. The former House Republican whip from swing-state Missouri controls what's considered one of the best national networks of anyone in his party not running for president. Chaffetz, a young Westerner with tea party appeal, is part of Blunt and Romney's team in the House.
Romney spent an early afternoon last week on Capitol Hill with a tough audience: more than 60 House Republicans, many of them conservative freshmen. For about 45 minutes, they grilled Romney on everything from Afghanistan, abortion, gay marriage and health care to how's he going to relate to voters who aren't wealthy.
Despite Romney winning the Capitol Hill race, he is still polling behind Cain - leading many Republicans to question the Romney camp about their policies and goals if he were to win the nomination.
9NEWS sat down with the GOP presidential candidate on Wednesday to discuss his campaign ideas. Below is a verbatim with former-Gov. Romney and 9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark:
KYLE CLARK: Gov Romney, thank you for joining us. We've seen President Obama in Colorado two times in the last four weeks. We asked him yesterday and I'll ask you today, why are we seeing so much of the President in Colorado?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think the President recognizes that given the failure of his economic policies, the millions of people out of work, with home values declining, with the median income in America having dropped 10 percent during his three years, that he's in trouble in Colorado. And so he wants to campaign in Colorado as often as he can and, if you will, become as much of a rock star as possible, to cover over the fact that his policies have not been good for the people of Colorado.
KYLE CLARK: Governor Romney, you spent a lot of time talking about reducing the tax burden on job creators. A question from 9NEWS viewer David Jerger in Northglenn: how will more tax breaks for companies create jobs when they are already sitting on $2 trillion dollars and not creating jobs?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, what we want to do is make sure that America is the most attractive place for companies that have a lot of cash to bring their cash and to invest. And so that means our tax rates have to be competitive for employers with tax rates around the world. Right now, they're not. Ours are the highest in the world. Regulations have to be updated and modernized so we encourage enterprise. We have to have energy policies that get us energy independent. But the key tax policy I bring to the fore is to give middle income Americans a tax break. Because middle income Americans are the ones that have been most hurt by the Obama economy and my plan says, look, no tax on savings for middle income Americans, interest, dividends, capital gains, no tax for anyone making $200,000 a year or less.
KYLE CLARK: Governor, you mentioned energy policy, let me ask you more specifically about that. As Governor of Massachusetts in 2006, power plants were subjected to limits on carbon dioxide. Toughest in the nation, according to your administration's press release. Colorado gets 70 percent of its [energy] from coal-fired power plants. Plants that would be slammed under regulations like that. Do you think Colorado needs what you brought in in Massachusetts?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I can tell you the right course for America with regard to energy policy is to focus on job creation and not global warming. The right course for America is for us to become energy secure and energy independent and that means developing our oil, our gas, our coal, ultimately our nuclear as well. Those resources have to be taken advantage of, and in addition, sure we like wind and solar and renewable resources but we have to use all the energy sources that are available to us in this country to get us off of our dependence on foreign energy and particularly to keep the billions of dollars we're sending out of America, bring those dollars back home.
KYLE CLARK: A question from another 9NEWS viewer, Marty Dickinson in Aurora. He asks, how can your economic growth have any real impact when none of your steps for growth involves the Internet, which Marty says, that's where the online economy is, silently to the outside world, growing by leaps and bounds?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, all of the policies of course relate to that technology, we want to make America a place where businesses come back and grow and invest. One of the keys to making investments in America is to believe that America's future is bright and prosperous, that our government is not going to turn us into a place like Greece. You're not going to see people investing in Greece anytime soon. And you're seeing in our country right now that increasingly businesses are either holding onto their cash because they're afraid to invest in America or they're taking it to other places. And I want to make sure America is the most attractive place in the world for entrepreneurs of all kinds, whether it's the new economy or the old economy, whether it's manufacturing or high tech, whether it's health care or agriculture. This has to be the best place in the world to invest, to grow and to add jobs. The President's policy is to say let's have government guide America. I don't think the President understands how much people are hurting in America, particularly those in the middle class, and he doesn't understand what it takes to get an economy going again. The proof of that is what's happened over the three years he's been President.
KYLE CLARK: Let me ask you a political question. Is Herman Cain being forthcoming and transparent enough regarding the allegations that have surfaced that he sexually harassed two women?
MITT ROMNEY: You know, I really don't have any information about Herman Cain's setting. I've only seen what's been on TV and what I've read in the newspapers, so all the questions relating to his... issue there, I think have to be addressed to him and his campaign.
KYLE CLARK: And lastly Governor, I'm not certain if you're aware, but Tim Tebow is kind of a big deal in Colorado these days. And I only bring that up because one portion of the discussion about Tim Tebow relates to his faith, which is an issue that you've been encouraged to discuss publicly before. So what I want to ask you is, what obligation, if any, do public figures, be they politicians or athletes, have to defend and discuss their faith with the public?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I can't speak for athletes, or for business executives, or for neighbors, but I do think that the founders of the country made a very wise choice. They recognized that America is unique in many respects because of the tolerance we have for people of different faiths, for the plurality of faiths in America as well, and said that in selecting public officials, there would not be a religious test applied. That was put into the Constitution. And the spirit of the Constitution, I think, lives in the hearts of most Americans. We really don't look to political candidates to describe their religion. That's up to the churches themselves. But I'm very happy to describe the fact that I'm a person of faith, I believe in God, I fundamentally believe in the principles of the Judeo-Christian world, and those principles of honesty, integrity and service for others, and love of country by the way, are among the reasons I'm running for President.
KYLE CLARK: Governor, thank you for your time.
MITT ROMNEY: Thank you, Kyle, good to be with you.
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